Top of the glamps

Sunday News - - FEATURE -

Have you tried glamp­ing? We mean true glamp­ing: can­dles, an out­door fire, hot tub, lux­ury bed, and lots of na­ture. There seems to be a lot of con­fu­sion about what glamp­ing ac­tu­ally is. We heard a TV com­men­ta­tor re­cently call it ‘‘gramp­ing’’ – think­ing it meant ‘‘grandma camp­ing’’, an­other per­son thought it stood for ‘‘glo­ri­ous glamp­ing.’’ It’s ac­tu­ally glam­orous camp­ing – and is es­sen­tially a lux­ury twist on an age-old tra­di­tion, of­ten with a re­sort-style of­fer­ing.

It’s one of the big­gest growth ar­eas for bou­tique ac­com­mo­da­tion in New Zealand, and we’ve tested out 10 of the best.

New Zealand has seen a boom in glamp­ing re­treats, so Brook Sabin and Radha Engling tested out 10 of the best, from a clifftop hot tub es­cape to a hob­bit hide­away.

1. A coast to your­self Cast­aways Costal Tents, Waiuku

This re­treat is raw, beau­ti­ful, rugged New Zealand at its best. Three tents are perched on the side of re­mote cliffs on the windswept West Coast beach of Kar­i­oitahi – but each site is per­fectly tucked away for ab­so­lute pri­vacy.

There are a few rea­sons this is our stand­out: each tent has a bath built into a cliff over­look­ing the black sandy beach below. The tents are heated (pretty rare for glamp­ing), mean­ing it’s a per­fect year-round es­cape. Reach­ing the tents is half the fun: you’re given the keys to an off-road golf buggy (and a map) and set off on an ad­ven­ture.

De­spite be­ing com­pletely off-grid and re­ly­ing on so­lar power, there’s an es­presso ma­chine and stereo with a ro­man­tic playlist. And each night in­cludes din­ner and break­fast. The food is wait­ing in the fridge for you to cook at your leisure.

Get­ting there: About an hour south of Auck­land. Power: So­lar power with USB charg­ing for phones.

Price: From $430 a night.

2. Live like a bird Kauri Tree Hut, Man­gawhai

Imag­ine hav­ing a can­dlelit bath – in­side your own tree house – deep in a kauri for­est, while feast­ing on a cheese plat­ter. The Kauri Tree Hut is ev­ery bit as mag­i­cal as it looks – cre­ated from three small bush huts that have been lov­ingly re­stored.

There is also plenty to tempt you from the for­est, with Man­gawhai’s beau­ti­ful beaches – and the Ben­netts of Man­gawhai choco­late fac­tory.

Get­ting there: About 11⁄2 hours north of Auck­land. Power: So­lar power for lights only.

Price: From $290 a night.

3. A hob­bit hide­away Un­der­hill Val­ley, Waikato

This fairy­tale adults-only grotto looks like it’s straight from The Hob­bit, but is per­haps best de­scribed as a tiny, un­der­ground can­dle-lit cas­tle.

The re­treat is set on its own lake, with two main caves. In the first, you’ll find the liv­ing area – one of the most mag­i­cal spa­ces we’ve come across – with elab­o­rate stonework, na­tive tim­bers and hand­crafted iron fit­tings. The sec­ond cave is an en­chant­ing bath­room with out­door bath­tub.

Get­ting there: 15 min­utes out­side Hamil­ton. Power: No power, it’s all can­dles at night and a coal range for cook­ing.

Price: From $355 a night.

4. A hot tub and moun­tains Tawanui Farm, Che­viot

This re­treat is set on a huge sheep and deer farm over­look­ing the Kaiko¯ ura Ranges. The tents can be found on the far cor­ner of the farm, and are set up like a mini-vil­lage that can fit up to eight peo­ple.

Two large lo­tus belle tents are at ei­ther side of the camp, and the main at­trac­tion is a huge cedar hot tub. On a clear day, you ad­mire the of­ten snow­capped Kaiko¯ ura Ranges from the hot tub.

Get­ting there: 1 hour, 15 min­utes north of Christchurch.

Power: So­lar power and USB for charg­ing phones. Price: From $240 a night.

5. A bush hide­away Seren­ity Re­treat, Coro­man­del

This new off-grid tiny house is a per­fect bolt-hole to base your­self while ex­plor­ing the Coro­man­del.

The hut is on an 32-hectare life­style block. The bath­room is our favourite fea­ture: it’s a lit­tle shed by a river, over­look­ing the na­tive bush and stream.

Get­ting there: Two hours from Auck­land. Power: So­lar power for lights and USB charg­ing. Price: From $295 a night.

6. Live the lake life Manutu¯ ke¯ Eco Re­treat, Gis­borne

This new site is for those seek­ing a mix of re­lax­ation and ad­ven­ture. It has two large tents,

bean bags set around an out­door fire, and a long wharf out to a pri­vate lake.

There is a kayak and standup pad­dle­board for ex­plor­ing the lake, or rent a bike to find huge hid­den ham­mocks dot­ted around the farm.

One six-me­tre ham­mock is built on a hill over­look­ing the coast and, thanks to Gis­borne’s po­si­tion, you can be among the first in the world to see the sun­rise.

Get­ting there: 15 min­utes out­side Gis­borne. Power: So­lar power for lights and USB charg­ing. Price: From $280 a night.

7. Noah’s mod­ern ark Cot­tle Hill Creek, Kerik­eri

New Zealand’s first float­ing glamp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is tucked away on its own lake in North­land. De­spite be­ing tiny, the ark has a kitchen, lounge, din­ing ta­ble, com­post­ing toi­let, and a huge comfy bed.

There is also a dinghy and kayaks – like us, you could head to the tiny is­land in the mid­dle of the lake for a pic­nic.

Don’t miss a visit to nearby Kerik­eri vil­lage for cof­fee, and pop into the Makana Choco­late Shop for its fa­mous ma­cadamia but­ter tof­fee crunch.

It is hands down the best sweet treat we’ve tasted.

Get­ting there: Three hours north of Auck­land, near Kerik­eri.

Power: So­lar power for lights.

Price: From $270 a night.

8. Glamp in style Rock­wood Sta­tion, Can­ter­bury

If you en­joy the lux­ury side of life, this glamp­ing es­cape is for you. Rock­wood Sta­tion is a sprawl­ing high-coun­try farm, with a bush cabin in one cor­ner – next to a 40-hectare for­est.

The best part is that it’s more mini-chateau than glamp­ing. The cabin has power, a 16-jet spa bath, dish­washer, and roar­ing fire – not to men­tion an ul­tra-comfy bed. Get­ting there: 1 hour, 15 min­utes from Christchurch.

Power: Yes.

Price: From $295 a night.

9. Go bush Cast­aways Tree Tent, Waiuku

The ad­ven­ture starts when you check in. You’re of­fered an e-bike and map for the 45-minute trip to the tent, which feels like a trea­sure hunt: the prize be­ing re­lax­ation. Or you can opt to drive to the patch of for­est where the hut is hid­den away.

The tree hut is su­per-comfy and heated, but the best part is un­doubt­edly the bath sus­pended in the trees. And the fridge full of food – with things like ba­con and salmon – in­cluded in the price. The hut also has a stereo and es­presso ma­chine.

Get­ting there: 1 hour south of Auck­land. Power: So­lar with USB charg­ing for phones. Price: From $430 a night.

10. Un­wind near Akaroa Green Antler

Imag­ine be­ing sur­rounded by 100 deer in your own lit­tle val­ley (though you’re fully pro­tected by a deer fence).

The large sa­fari tent at Green Antler can fit up to five in two be­d­rooms, and even has an in­door fire (rare for glamp­ing), and a grand din­ing area.

The four-per­son wood-fired tub is a place you won’t want to leave, and is best-en­joyed un­der the stars with a glass of wine while lis­ten­ing to the dis­tant deer calls.

The quaint French vil­lage of Akaroa is just over 30 min­utes away, where you can swim with the tiny Hec­tor’s dol­phin, one of rarest in the world.

Get­ting there: 1 hour from Christchurch, near Lit­tle River in Banks Penin­sula.

Power: So­lar with USB charg­ing for phones. Price: From $290 a night.

The au­thor was hosted by Canopy Camp­ing.

The Kauri Tree Hut is built on stilts, deep in the na­tive bush.

Cot­tle Hill Creek is home to res­i­dent ducks, but it’s also com­mon to see wild tur­keys, pea­cocks, quail and pheas­ants.

The Green Antler has a four-per­son bath­tub over­look­ing a deer farm.

Tawanui Farm has two large Lo­tus Belle tents.

The Cast­aways Tree Tent even has a bath sus­pended in the trees.

If you’ve won­dered what it’s like to be a hob­bit, Un­der­hill will get you there.

Rock­wood Sta­tion is con­sid­ered high coun­try, so any weather is on the cards.

The Cast­away Costal Tents all have food ready in your fridge to eat.

The Manutu¯ ke¯ Eco Re­treat has been open for only a few weeks.

Seren­ity Re­treat is tucked away on a large Coro­man­del farm.

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